THIRD-PERIOD SURGE HELPS AMERKS TAKE DOWN COMETSNov 4, 2022
Trailing 3-1 entering the final minute of the second period, the Rochester Americans (6-3-0-0) erupted for four straight unanswered goals, including two in 22 seconds, to storm back and claim a 5-3 win over the Utica Comets (2-4-0-1) in the first leg of a home-and-home series between the North Division rivals Friday at The Blue Cross Arena.
GAME SUMMARY PHOTO GALLERY POST-GAME REPORT
The win improves Rochester to 5-0-0-0 on home ice, the team’s best start at home since 2006-07, and moves the Amerks to within two points of first place in the American Hockey League’s North Division standings.
Forwards Anders Bjork (1+1) and Brandon Biro (0+2) both notched a multi-point effort as did defenseman Ethan Prow (1+1) in the win. Lukas Rousek, Linus Weissbach and Mason Jobst all scored one goal apiece.
Matt Bartkowski, Riley Sheahan, Jiri Kulich and Brett Murray all logged an assist while goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen improved to 5-3-0 as he matched a season-high 37 saves. Luukkonen boasts a 11-5-5 record in his last 21 starts dating back to the 2021-22 campaign.
Brian Halonen, Nolan Foote and Brian Pinho all scored for the Comets, who remain winless on the road this season. Goaltender Nico Daws (0-3-0) stopped 15 of the 20 shots he faced but suffered the loss.
Facing a 3-1 deficit late in the second period, Oskari Laaksonen gathered a loose puck near the benches before sending a pass to Bartkowski.
The newcomer, who scored Wednesday night versus Syracuse, skated into the offensive zone before leaving it just inside the blueline for Biro. The Penn State product collected the pass and immediately sent it across the ice for Bjork to snipe inside the left post to cut the deficit in half heading into the intermission.
With the goal, Bjork, who earned an assist on Rochester’s first goal of the night, shows four points (2+2) over his last three outings while Bartkowski has a marker and helper in his last two (1+1).
The Amerks continued to ride the late-goal momentum as they drew a hooking infraction in the first 2:32 of the third period.
While the Comets cleared the puck out of the zone in the first 30 seconds, Prow scooped it up at the far blueline before giving it to Rousek, who dashed through the center of the ice. The forward continued his way around Utica defenders before cutting to the net while also evading a poke check and fired it past the left leg of Daws to even the score at 3:19.
As the game was knotted at 3-3, Rochester looked to take its first lead and finally broke through as Biro dug the puck out of the defensive corner.
After Kulich sprung Weissbach and Biro in transition out of the zone, the pair raced through the center ice. Biro reached the top of the left face-off circle and left a drop-pass for Weissbach, who stepped into a shot for his sixth of the campaign with 4:12 left in regulation.
On the ensuing shift following a face-off win, Sheahan and Murray had an odd-man rush towards Daws. They exchanged quick passes before Sheahan centered the puck for Prow, who one-timed it past the Utica netminder after joining the rush late.
Utica attempted to dent the Amerks’ lead by pulling Daws for the final two minutes of play, but after the teams traded roughing penalties, the Amerks earned the 5-3 victory.
The contest did not start off well for Rochester as Utica scored twice in a span of 5:03, however, a shorthanded goal by Jobst made it a 2-1 score at the first intermission.
The Comets added their final goal of the night on Foote’s tally before the Amerks stormed back with four straight tallies to pick up the victory.
The home-and-home series shifts back to Utica on Saturday, Nov. 5 for a rematch at Adirondack Bank Center. Game time is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start and will be carried on The Sports Leader 95.7 FM/950 AM The Fan Rochester as well as AHLTV.
Including tonight, four of Rochester’s five home wins have come by way of four or more goals ... With Riese Zmolek making his Amerks debut tonight, he became the 12th different defensemen to appear in a game this season for Rochester, which is tied for most in the AHL ... The Amerks have scored at least one power-play goal in each of their five home matchups, going 8-for-25 over that span for a 32.0% conversion rate that is fifth-best in the AHL … The eight power-play goals are the most at home this season.
UTC: B. Halonen (1), B. Pinho (5), N. Foote (3)
ROC: M. Jobst (2), A. Bjork (3), L. Rousek (3), L. Weissbach (6), E. Prow (1)
UTC: N. Daws – 15/20 (L)
ROC: U. Luukkonen – 37/40 (W)
UTC: PP (1/4) | PK (3/4)
ROC: PP (1/4) | PK (3/4)
1. ROC - B. Biro
2. ROC - E. Prow
3. ROC - L. Weissbach